Thursday, May 8, 2014

judgy mcjudgerson

i got into a big ol' argument with my brother the other day. the topics were broad and far-reaching but the over-arching theme was that of judgy-ness.

let me back up a bit. my brother was in town for a couple of weeks. he and DM and i embarked on a super wild thursday night of drinking bourbon, folding laundry, and watching the season finale of project runway which actually ended like 6 months ago. i mean, i would be remiss if i didn't share with my young, single brother the siren song of domestic life.

so, i was folding laundry, holding up a northface fleece and my brother says, "EW. i have come to the conclusion that anyone who wears northface who is not actively climbing the face of a mountain is basically a terrible person."

me: "wow. that seems like kind of an over-generalization. especially since i wear northface when it's 65 degrees in san diego."

brother: "nope. sorry. it's pretty much true down to the last person. except you, of course. northface and lululemon. very reliable indicators of bad character."

at this point, tim gunn of "project runway" fame comes on the television and my brother says, "did you know tim gunn is asexual?"

DM: "yeah. that's just weird."

me: "i read that too. he seems like a nice guy but that's a bit strange."

brother: "strange? that's rude. my friend so-and-so is asexual. do you think she's strange?"

me: "um, yes, for that among other reasons. i mean, i like her a lot, but she's definitely a bit peculiar."

my brother then became extremely offended on behalf of his dear friend so-and-so. phewwwww-eeeee. he was not happy. he tied it all back to another concept he recently educated me on - "sex positivity," a.k.a. any amount of sex you want to have with other consenting adults (or, in this case, not have) is okay, and people shouldn't be shamed because of it. and i'm all for this, in theory, though in practice, i do think the issue of "consent" gets a little sticky (no pun intended). but anyway. yeah. brother was in a rage. he told me that i was a judgy bitch and none of his friends like me.

so, to sum it up, drawing conclusions about a person's character based on what they wear = okay. expressing a personal opinion about someone because they abstain from sex = not okay. my brother says this is because choosing what to wear is not an essential, important decision (though apparently it can still dictate whether or not you are a good person), while what you choose to do in your bedroom is THE most important, and most private, decision that there is. i'm not sure i agree it is THE most important (or if there is a most important), but i'm with you that it is important, and it is your right, and what you do in the privacy of your bedroom is none of my business. unless you share that information with the national media. i'm sorry, but if you tell US magazine that you can only get off by sticking a purple dildo in your ear, i reserve the right to think that's "a bit strange." not that we can't be friends or anything. whatever floats your boat. just don't stick it in MY ear.

the argument then devolved into religion, evolution, creationism, and dinosaurs, with DM playing devil's advocate and throwing punches from whichever side caused the maximum number of tail feathers to be ruffled, as he is wont to do, particularly when he's been drinking. i'm not going to get into the specifics but DM definitely said something like, "God and the science behind carbon dating both require 'faith' and who are we to say that 'faith' in science is 'better' or more reliable than faith in God?" (which kind of reminds me of this poem by matt cook in the book "nuyorican poets cafĂ©" titled "science was invented by a bunch of guys who were so ugly they couldn't possibly believe in god.") at this point my brother went through the roof, but at least it took some of the heat off me and my newly minted title of queen bee-atch.

so yeah.

things I learned that night:

1) do not stay up until 2:30 am drinking bourbon with your 23 year old brother when you have to work at 7:30 am.

2) do not argue politics, religion, or sexuality when intoxicated, or really, ever.

3) do not attempt to "season" cast iron over the gas range after engaging in the behavior referenced in numbers (1) and (2), above.

4) everybody thinks they're right.
4a) your age and your level of thinking-you're-rightness are inversely proportional.

okay. first. about asexuality in particular. you can't deny that to be asexual is to stand out in comparison to your average vanilla, missionary position, american. this is evidenced by the fact that my brother thought it was a characteristic worth mentioning in the first place.

telling me you don't like sex is like telling me you don't like cheese or alcohol. my first impression is going to be that you don't like to be happy. i may be wrong, i may be right. but hey, at least i'm being honest here. maybe there is a reason for your decision. maybe lactose makes you sh*t your pants and alcohol makes you an asshole. maybe something happened to you that turned sex into a negative thing. maybe you're just wired differently. i don't know. all i know is that, like cheese and alcohol, in my book, if you're abstaining from sex (like, on purpose), you're missing out.

now might be the time to point out that i didn't say, "tim gunn is an insane freak of nature and i wouldn't let him within ten yards of my children." i said "he seems like a nice guy," but the fact that he hasn't had sex in twenty years is "a bit strange" (to me). i don't know tim gunn. it's a little silly to be using someone i've never even met before as an example. but just for the sake of argument, i don't even think strange is a necessarily negative adjective. i consider myself quite strange. to me it means out of the ordinary. i like strange. ordinary is... well... ordinary.

what is that dr. seuss quote? "we're all a little weird and life's a little weird and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

yes. that.

DM has another way of putting it: "you're my kind'a asshole." that works, too.

okay. so, second, the notion of judgyness in general.

i myself have decried the judgy bitches of the world. it's not nice when someone decides that because you're different from them, you are somehow less than. but when you break it down, judging, in and of itself, isn't really all that bad, is it?

judge: v. form an opinion or conclusion about.

judgment: n. the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

sounds pretty reasonable to me. when you look at it like this, judging others is actually kind of inherent and perhaps even essential to human interaction, wouldn't you say? i mean, maybe you are super evolved and whenever you form a judgment you immediately, thoughtfully contemplate and analyze said judgment and refrain from allowing it to inform your reaction or behavior. but i'm calling bullllllllshit on anyone who says "i don't judge." it's like those people who say "oh, i don't see skin color." ummmm, unless you are legally blind, you do, in fact, see skin color. i would hope that you would not let your perception of skin color affect whether or not you treat that person as a fellow human being worthy of your kindness and respect. but to say you don't see or notice it is a load of crap.

anyway, i'm not saying you shouldn't be you. i'm just saying you being you may or may not mesh with me being me. ya dig? with family, you're stuck with what you were given. but we get to choose our other fellow passengers on the plane of life, and the further i travel, the pickier i get. i used to want people to like me. even people i didn't know. i cared what "People" thought. but the older i get, the less time and patience i have for bullshit. i don't have a whole lot of room in my life, and if i'm going to make space for you, you damn well better be worth it. it's like dating when you're 20 versus dating when you're 50. at this point in my life, i need the mom-friend courting process to be as efficient as possible. i just want to cut right to the chase. it's like that book, "the rosie project." have you read it? it's cute. anyway, the guy tries to make a scientific survey to vet potential wives. [spoiler alert] in the end it turns out that love trumps the scientific process, but i totally understand the intention there. we all deserve to be around people that love us despite our little peccadillos, that make us happy, that bring out our best selves. not people that upset us, stress us, or put us on the defensive. and it would be awesome if there was some sort of application process to weed out the rejects before we wasted any more time.

mine would look something like this.

do you (or have you ever) (check all that apply):

have nice things
knit your own washcloths or churn your own butter (okay, actually, i take that back. if you churn your own butter i definitely want to be your friend)
abstain from cheese or alcohol
talk about crossfit
use a netipot in the women's restroom at work
think epidurals and/or formula are "poison"
take up more than one parking spot at a time
think taco bell is mexican food
say "the F word" instead of fuck
believe eggplant is fit for human consumption
believe sarah palin is fit to hold public office

now. it bears mentioning that i have loved ones and dear friends who would check one or more of the above boxes. it's not like you're automatically disqualified. think of it like the college application process - if you bomb your SATs, you better have a kick ass GPA and some standout extracurricular activities. think of it as affirmative action for our friendship. the only one that is an automatic red flag for me is being against gay rights/gay marriage. that, to me, is like flunking out of high school. basically, at that point, you're relying solely on nepotism to get yourself a spot.

on the other hand, you can earn extra credit if:

"you like pina coladas, gettin' caught in the rain....
you're not much into health food, you are into champagne"
you like the idea of working out
you like yoga and diet coke
you would not refuse a cold glass of Tang if it was set in front of you, FD&C Red #3 be damned
you love day drinking
you love naps
you think most anything is better with cheese and hot sauce
you prefer books to television
you have a library card
you have a passport
you love adventure, but realize you're too old for hostels two-star hotels
your "style inspiration" (and basically everything else in your life) comes from target

the term "judgy" has become shorthand for thinking you're better than somebody else. but that's not what i'm talking about here. i'm talking about picking up on cues about other people based on thirty-four years of human interaction. going with your gut. finding common ground. i do it every day, and i'd be willing to bet you do, too.

finally, please keep this in mind. just because our particular brands of strangeness don't jive doesn't mean you are any less deserving of my respect or basic human kindness. i generally believe people should be allowed to think and do and be whatever they want, as long as their thinking and doing and being doesn't infringe on the rights of others to do the same. and being a grown up citizen of humanity means you have to be able to coexist with people who might not believe what you believe, and, in the words of tim gunn, ya gotta make it work.


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